If you need living proof that we're living in a truly digital world - now you have it. The Museum of Modern Art in New York just announced that 176 of the world's first emojis are going on permanent display in the Manhattan gallery. But before you despair about the laughing face emoji (or worse, the smiling pile of poo) getting permanent residency among works by Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Edward Hopper and Frida Kahlo - hear us out.
The collection isn't the colourful emoji that we all use on a daily basis. It's actually the black and white pixelated version created by Japanese mobile carrier NTT DOCOMO way back in 1999. Initially called 'picture characters', they were designed by Shigetaka Kurita and form the basis of what we collectively now know as emoji. The collection of digital artefacts joins MoMA's other acquisitions including the @ symbol and cult video games like Minecraft and The Sims.
"In a sense, what we've really acquired is a new communication platform," Paola Antonelli, senior curator in the department of architecture and design told The New York Times. "But at the same time, the emoji themselves are ideographs, one of the most ancient ways to communicate. I love how the centuries are connected in that way."
The collection is due to go on display in the MoMA lobby from December.